Root canal treatment can help save your tooth. A root canal is usually performed on a tooth that has a large cavity, a tooth with a fracture present, or on a tooth that has sustained trauma. In all of these cases the nerve is damaged to the point that it can not repair itself.
The pulp tissue is composed of blood vessels, nerve tissue and other living tissue and is located in the center of the tooth. It allows the tooth to sense hot and cold, pressure and touch sensations. When the pulp is damaged - due to a cavity, a fracture, a large filling, trauma, or whatever the cause - it can die. This diseased tissue can lead to an infection which is hard for the body to clear up. This eventually leads to swelling and pain.
There are only two treatment options:
1. Removal of the tooth,
2. Root canal treatment.
Sometimes the pain and / or swelling goes away on it's own. But, the diseased tissue remains and more serious consequences can develop; such as the formation of a cyst at the end of the root, advanced bone loss around the tooth and / or adjacent teeth, or the spreading of infection to other body sites.
With an x-ray of the tooth and an examination of the tooth and adjacent teeth, our office can advise you on the most appropriate treatment. Sometimes, it is better to remove a diseased tooth. Each case is unique and we will offer the best treatment option.
A root canal is basically the removal of all the diseased tissue and debris from the pulp canal and the lining of the walls of the canal or canals - some teeth have more than one canal. In the procedure all of the harmful bacteria present in the canal is removed or destroyed.
The procedure is performed under a rubber dam, which allows us to isolate the diseased tooth. That way nothing enters the tooth other than our instruments and medicaments. At the same time, nothing enters the patient's mouth or throat. The canal is cleaned and shaped with special files and a computerized instrument. This technique allows us to perform a root canal in one visit and with minimal post operative sensitivity. X-rays are taken to insure that the root canal is performed to the proper length of the tooth's root. Finally, the cleaned canal is filled with a special rubber material - called gutta percha - and a cement. The procedure usually is completed in one hour under local anesthetic.
In each case the most appropriate restorative treatment will be recommended before treatment is started.
Signs that a tooth might need a Root Canal:
Presence of pain or throbbing. Especially if it wakes you up while sleeping or if you gently tap on the tooth and you experience pain.
Pain from the tooth if you bite down while eating.
Pain to hot or cold liquids or food.
Presence of an abscess. Often seen as a "gum boil" on the gum tissue next to the tooth.
With more complex cases, our office uses a specialist to treat the patient. Sometimes canals are hard to locate and properly clean, or there may be a cyst at the end of the root. The Endodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training to handle these difficult cases. Once the root canal is performed and the infection cleared up, our office will place the final restoration on the tooth.